fran macilvey recent comments

written 518 days ago

Dear Judith

I just popped in to take a quick look at your latest offering, "Regularly Scheduled Program" and have read the first two and a half chapters. I have popped this on my WL and rated it for now, so that I can come back and read some more soon.

Meantime, some comments? This is very dynamic, with a great story line, good pacing and interesting characters with plenty of room for development. I like the setup.

Remember, though, to stay in character. Would Tracy use the expression "cerebral palsy" about a baby brother she has just met, and is struggling to cope with? Somehow, I think she would be more likely to confess to John, "He has something wrong with his legs and his head flops all over the place...." rather than say, "He has cerebral palsy...." which is a strange, difficult to spell expression that means so many different things, and which most people don't actually understand at all.

Also, "rust coloured eyes" sounds, I dunno, not very flattering.

Read aloud to check for places where a full stop would do better than a comma; and beware of making too many assumptions about what your readers will understand. In the miltary context, you can take quite a bit for granted, but some of the lingo is a little too loose to be easily understood. Reading aloud will help you to slow it down just enough to make it an easier read. The eye sometimes needs time to catch up, if you know what I mean.

I like this, though, so please keep going with it. I plan to come back and read a bit more soon. Meantime, best of luck, and thanks for posting this!

Fran xx :) view book

written 549 days ago

Dear Grace

I have read the first seven upload chapters of "Sorry" just now. You write very well indeed of your suffering, and though perhaps your word count looks daunting, I have to say that it doesn't feel like that when I am reading your story. There are repetitions, too, but again, this is how it was for you, and repetition was and is part of the pattern, so it is there in the unfolding, in the telling.

I am struck by the deliberate cruelty of your parents - getting you pets and then just taking them away, because they could, as if to say, "what could we do that would really hurt her?" The sense of your own lack of worth permeates your whole thoughts, your reactions, all your understandings. And it is sad to see all the familiar coping strategies, the perfectionism, the working hard, and how even then, it was turned against you.

But you are coming out of that now, and people here can read about your struggles. What a gift you have given us. There is nothing wrong with your MS, and you don't really need to worry about that, anyway. The voice is clear and convincing, the details all relevant and powerful. Thank you for writing this. Top marks, and on my WL until I find room for a space on my shelf, which is the least I can do.

Fran :)

PS - have you started doing submissions yet? You could, quite easily. Just ask Spirit to help you. xx view book

written 552 days ago

Dear Frances

I don't know why this isn't published. Of course, I don't want to hurry you, Frances, and I am sure you have a lot to do, but this is very, very, very good. A bit gothic, which isn't necessarily to my taste - I prefer light and airy fairy. If I had been to a school like this one, I would probably have jumped off a parapet or something - is it really so bad? My school days feel like a picnic compared to this.

Anyway. Go girl, and find a(nother?) publisher.

Fran XX :-)) view book

written 561 days ago

Oooh, this is spooky, and I just read the first three chapters straight off. I haven't done that in a very long time.

I thought I would take a peek and see what all the fuss has been about, and I am so glad - so very glad! - not to have been disappointed. This is a carefully considered, well described piece of writing. Spooky, interesting and picturesque, I am sure that the rest will continue to be.

If I have any suggestions.....hmmm, not really.....I would perhaps tone down all the early talk of premonitions, been here before, deja vu; you don't need to emphasise this, as your readers will pick it up from the flow of the story, and there is nothing wrong in showing it, as the story unfolds. The familiarity could be picked up in the way she knows her way around, a resonance with parts of the house, or her uncanny knowledge of the layout, for example.

Your writing style is confident and careful, interesting and well paced. I wish you very well with this, though I cannot help thinking that on a postage stamp sized image, your cover design does not do your justice. Can hardly see it. Just a thought.

On my WL and five stars just now. May upgrade when I have a minute to read some more. Hope that is soon. I am impatient already.

All the best

Fran Macilvey xx :) view book

written 590 days ago

I have just read the first four chapters of "Ten Deep Footprints" and most of chapter 20.

I love the scope of your story, and its exciting, cosmopolitan feel. It feels sophisticated and grown up, which is quite hard to do. You carry that off well, and there is much wit in your writing, too.

It also moves forward, well paced and filled with details that bring your characters to life. There is a lot to love here, in your clever, well crafted writing!

I had a few thoughts which you can take or leave and which I shall send to your message page.

Meantime this is staying on my WL and is highly rated! All the best for the ed's desk. view book

written 619 days ago

Dear Percy

I had a look at the first two chapters of "Rage" today. Your enthusiasm for story writing comes across clearly, and you have a good plot, which I would find the most difficult to organise in any story.

However, there are things you can do to make your story easier to read and more convincing. Two things are most obvious to me: more depth and more clarity with the text. If you would take more time over your descriptions, you could add more flavour. Then I, as the reader, would not feel "and then this happened, and then that happened" feeling...which gives your narrative a shallow, impatient flavour.

Secondly, you could clean up the presentation. Your chapter headings are confusing - you have a Giant "First" in the second chapter, and then you have nothing. ....your text could be tidied for grammar nits and for lots of annoying - hyphens - which are there to add drama - not to give a kind of writer's shorthand (which sends the signal that the writer can't be bothered to explain....)

Again, this suggests that more depth would be very helpful to you. Slow down, sometimes, and imagine yourself in the heroine's shoes. If she had sprained her ankle, would she be able to walk away from her interview, and would she be able to wear her new pink Jimmy Choo shoes with heels? I doubt it, but more time taken to explain that, might persuade me.

Best of luck with your writing!

Fran xx :) view book

written 642 days ago

Dear Ruko

I've been reading some more of your yummy book. There is nothing in it that a little editing wouldn't fix - you have a lovely style, a great story to tell, which I sincerely hope gets published.

Oh, I do love your sense of humour and the way you can paint a portrait with just a few words. Delicious! xxx :) view book

written 651 days ago

Dear Ruko

I have read the first three chapters of "From Congo With Love" and am alternately amused, touched and depressed by what you write. The situation feels like hell well hidden in heaven. What you write about is slightly familiar to me: my father had postings in both the Congo and in Rwanda, before the genocide when one million people were murdered in three months. It still makes me very sad to think of it.

However, your writing is fresh and your style is funny, irreverant and chatty. I could just sit and read what you have written, all day. Your descriptions are vivid and so clearly set to the page, that I can feel myself at the scene; your discourse on different problems and tensions is enlightening. You have asked for suggestions for cuts, and I have to say, none so far.

I suggest you leave the question of cuts to an editor. Meantime, your narrative only wants the usual checking for smoothness and the occasional typo. Your immensely readable account is carefullly considered and wonderfully exposes the mind boggling complexities and absurdities of life as a peacekeeper in the DRC. The message is clear, that the ongoing civil wars are a complete waste of talent, resources and opportunities.

I hope that everyone reads your book. I intend to read more as soon as I can. Meantime, I give this top marks and a spot on my WL, until I can work out how to promote it to a shelf space.

Fran Macilvey, "Happiness Matters" / "Making Miracles" xxx :) view book

written 652 days ago

Dear Janet and Helen

I left a comment earlier, but I have been reading some more - your book is like that. I find that I just can't stop reading about you, Janet. The house is cold, and I really should go and put the tea on. But, well, your blow by blow account is really absorbing and gripping, and sad, and very well taken apart. So that I understand you.

This book is a truly momentous achievement, which makes me wonder how many other women in prison and making a mess of life have been raped and traumatised, left to pick up the pieces and some bits of dignity and just soldier on. You really make me wonder about that.

I can understand why your introduction is hesitant and rather too careful. And why you start your story slowly. Please, don't change it, even though you may decide to tighten it up a bit at the beginning. You have worked hard to get it here, and your story reads well. I hope you get this published and that lots of people read about you and your bravery.

Bless you, and good luck! Six stars and on my shelf ASAP.

Fran xxx :-))
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written 652 days ago

Dear Janet and Helen

I have read the first eight chapters of "The Stranger in My Life" as well as the last three chapters - if a book is exciting, I like to know what happens.

Your style is easy on the eye and very evocative: your narrative has a good flow. I enjoyed reading about farm life, which feels familiar: the taciturn farmer with poor hygiene and the hint of all feels right, and is conveyed well to the page.

Suggestions? Not many. I had a think about your intro and first chapter, uploads 1 and 2. I feel that there is almost enough in the story for you to just begin with Janet as a child and go on from there. You drop hints of what is to come, which keep me reading, so the fact that Fred Handford disappeared and Janet lost four days, could simply be two surprises to unfold, on the way to the reader's final discoveries.... how dramatic they would be.

I do like your "other side of the story" though, Janet's modern day visits to the psychologist. That story is very well considered and adds another interesting dimension.

So, may I perhaps suggest that you trim down your intro and chapter 1 as much as possible, so that you don't give away any secrets that would help to drive forward the story and keep your readers guessing? That Janet lives in a caravan with five dogs is intriguing enough, and we certainly want to know how she came to this pass. But keep your tinder as dry as possible, so that you don't reveal too much too soon? Just a suggestion.

Other than that, your MS only needs a small comb for syntax, for commas used where a full stop might be better. You have a few very long sentences which could easily be divided.

The best of luck with this. It has all the right ingredients, and is well written and easy to read.

Fran Macilvey, "Happiness Matters"
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written 663 days ago

Dear Joe

This is funny, and I love to read it because I enjoy a good laugh. You have put all your experiences to good use - yes, I remember you went on a trip to Munich and ate sossidges.... - and I am pleased that your writing style is so easy and conversational, with a great deal I can relate to. Genuine, funny and familiar. Thank you.

"Happiness Matters" and "Making Miracles". view book

written 667 days ago

Dear ER

Though not a "true crime" buff, I took a look at your book, because it is doing very well. I'm not sure what I expected to find, but overall, I was quite impressed. You marshall your facts and the dead straight delivery adds a certain credibility.

There is also the conversational tone, which makes the reading easier, though the facts are grim. You have a way of offering a gentle parody, making it clear that, for example, several drownings in one spot in the same circumstances can hardly be written off as coincidence......

All the best with this. Somehow, I know it will do well.

Fran XX :) view book

written 691 days ago

Dear Dyane

I have read the first two chapters of "The Purple Morrow" and even although this is not my usual choice of reading, I find much in your confident, fluent style that is very pleasing indeed. You write carefully, with good clear descriptions and varied, interesting and wide ranging vocab. Nothing lazy here at all. And no issues with typos or grammar that I could find.

I do agree with VLParker, that you might extend the scenes in the first chapter, just by a sentence or two, so that we have a little time to linger with Jeru and Aliyah. Given what is going to happen, there is room for gentleness, perhaps. Aliyah might pause to admire the rainbows over the waterfall, the lovers might kiss, while overhead the threatening scene builds. Shades of light and dark....

I am not sure about the expression "walnut eyes..." I eat lots of walnuts, and I think I know what you mean, but it sounds faintly....ugly...? Is that what you intend? ;-)

Watch the language in the second chapter. You are using a slightly olde worlde style which fits well, but there is the hint that you might slip into a slang which is just a bit too out of place? Yeah, a bit of casual is good, especially men in the pub having a good time, but be sure it does not feel out of place in the old fashioned atmosphere you have worked so hard to create.

All in all, impressive writing and a smooth clean MS. I do hope this does well for you. Staying on my WL and highly rated. Great stuff!

Fran :-)) view book

written 691 days ago

Dear Lenny

I like your practical, straight talking style. Your approach to self help is refreshingly direct and accessible, and I commend you for taking on a rather difficult subject and writing about it in a clear straightforward style.

There is room here for a bit of a clearing edit, by which I mean that you could read through what you have written and find stuff to trim back, for smoothness, for clarity and so that the pace keeps going. You may be writing a sort of "true story" but there is room for drama and excitement, too. As you are deliberately crossing genres, you have a clear run and can be inventive, as well as informative.

All the best with this. On my WL.

Fran :-)) view book

written 693 days ago

Dear Maria

Reading more of what you have posted here, I am struck again by the restraint in your writing, which gives it such power. For all the sadness, nothing is laboured, or descends into sentiment. I could just read on, all day....thank you for articulating your position so clearly.

Lots of love

Fran :-)) view book

written 707 days ago

Dear Casimir

I come to "Bloodstones" late, having first read and loved, "Slow Poison" which has long been one of my favourites on the site.

Now I have just read the first two chapters of "Bloodstones". Here you use the same descriptive style, careful, minimalist and atmospheric, which so suits a mystery. All the details mean something, and add to the overall impression, so that reading must be taken slowly. This I very much appreciate and enjoy.

I felt that your opening paragraphs could just occasionally have done with an injection of something more ordinary. Your phrasing was, on occasion, perhaps a little too light, somehow. Almost as if, being anxious to set your own, as opposed to Madge's, creative credentials, you take some pains to emphasise your creative and beautiful writing. You don't need to worry. I am sure that Madge has her down to earth moments too!

Beginnings are always difficult. I tentatively suggest that a little more solidity at the start might help with setting down the tale. Hard to put into words, somehow....Re-reading your opening paragraphs, it took me some time to bed down the meaning, and to set off to explore your story.

It comes to me that you are setting up a contrast in the characters of Madge and Dawn. This you do well, not so obviously that it grates, and the style of your writing makes it clear of the difference, so there is never any confusion there. But you have lived a long time with your tale, so you appreciate all the finer meanings which might escape the reader, when we are learning about Madge. Of course, this is what makes good literature rewarding. Reading a book several times, each time we see something new. But ambiguities and details that are just too finely observed, can confuse.....

All the best with this, and with all your writing. Yours is a talent that I rejoice in, being so careful, clean and wonderfully expressed.

Fran XX :-)) view book

written 707 days ago

Dear Dave

Thanks for inviting me to read some of your book, "Stop The Insanity". I like your style, your confidence and your ease with the language. As Mike Lee has said, I agree that you strike the right note between being informative and being engaging enough so that I want to read on. That talent alone, is worth a great deal in work of this sort.

For someone not fully versed in American politics, nevertheless I can understand a lot of what you write about, and many parallels can be drawn with UK politics: the paucity of political will; the sell out to the media and big business, the obsession with a handful of emotive and never ending debates.

That said, I think your conclusions run to simplistic. Your confidence and straight talking are very heartening, and unlike most politicians today, you are able and willing to offer straight answers. But your solutions are probably too straightforward. Any problem, and any solution, probably has many contributing factors. For example, do the US maintain a military presence in the UK, in Germany and Japan out of inertia? Possibly to a degree; but there is also the question of their existing multilateral defence commitments, arrangements for exchange of ideas, not to mention surveillance and the watching function of the military, which can only have accelerated after the attackes of 9/11.

Do keep up with the writing, though consider toning down the certainty a little, if you know what I mean. I like the idea of insanity, but beware of coming across too sure or too dogmatic. You run the risk of alienating your readers.

All the best of luck to you.

Fran :-)) view book

written 708 days ago

Dear Jane

At last, I can leave a comment for you! I have read the first two chapters of "Ugly in Paradise" today, and found much in your book that is very funny and enjoyable. You have a good eye for detail, and a great way of putting that on the page so that your reader. I enjoy finding humour that makes me laugh out loud, as I have reading this.

I would have liked more background at times, and rather more depth. You have lived through the experiences you are describing, but we have not, and while I appreciate that a fictional diary like Adrain Mole or Bridget Jones Diary are only fiction, perhaps you may find there is still room to explain more, linger and expand on the wider story.

Take care, Jane! All the best with your writing.

Fran XX :-)) view book

written 714 days ago

Dear April

I have just read the first two chapters of "The Illusion". I very much enjoyed your pitch, which left me impatient to get started. Well done!

I also enjoyed the first chapter, which is well written, fluent and feels assured. There are times when I felt that you could have expanded more, just a little, for depth, though I notice your overall word count is fine. I realise this is going to be something of an epic, and I am encouraged by the confidence of your writing, in slightly dated style which suits the setting.

Beware of not explaining enough to your readers. We have not spent as much time as you have, with your characters, and a bit of time taken to describe them more fully, just in a sentence or two, would do much to offset some of your very clever and imaginative dialogue sections, such as those in chapter 2. Not everything can be high flown and witty. I feel that perhaps on occasion you could do with some more - how might I describe it - ordinary background, to give the bright stuff a bit of extra sparkle, much in the way that a piece of jewellry is shown at its best against a dark background, which needs to be there but does not compete for attention - and to allow the reader to relax into the reading. Not banal or boring, but that we get the feeling you have all the time in the world to lay your story out for us.

Say you throw caution to the wind and write another twenty thousand words, setting the context and giving your narrative time to unfold. Then you might worry that your word count would be too high. But your editing could cull other parts, or trim them, so that we have a mix of light and shade, some relaxed, some tight, some moving, some gentle and closely observed. It is this mix of pace and focus, as well as the story, that makes reading interesting.

Your writing is excellent overall, and your grasp of a slightly ironic period drama is very good, so in many ways, you have the most important aspects in place. Editing now, so that you smooth, clear and trim, will really allow you story to shine.

All the best with this. Highly rated.

Fran :-)) view book

written 715 days ago

Dear Sara

Thanks very much indeed for inviting me to take a look at your book, "Finger Bones". I am so glad I did! There is a concise feel to this piece, with interesting detail. I am pleased to notice that you never go for the obvious phrase in the telling, but have the knack of choosing some slightly different expression to finish a sentence, for example. That variety shows that you understand the importance of colour in the detail, as well as lifting the tone of this story and making it extra engaging. Thank you.

That said, there is a place for small repetitions in this type of story, particularly fairy tale yarns that sound good spoken aloud. And here you have that balance just about right, too. Repetition for a purpose is reassuring, especially for children.

I love your characterisations. That Finger Bones is drawn from a real character, who walked through town each day with his bindle, makes it extra interesting! And you taught me a new word, bindle. I appreciate that.

I am looking forward to reading more of your wonderful story. Your story telling is confident, affectionate and careful.

If you are looking for ways to improve your MS, well, frankly, there is little I can offer in the way of suggestions. But one thing did occur to me. There is repetition with a purpose, which is fine. Please leave that as it is, since it helps to spin the web of make believe and suspense.

Very occasionally, I feel there is an overstatement, particularly in the dialogues between Wendy and Finger Bones, which you could perhaps tighten up. It is not much at all, just a word or two here and there. One I noticed, which I am sorry I cannot quote here as navigating the site is proving difficult just now, is where Wendy is having that chat with Finger bones and you end with "..... until that day..." Perhaps you could write.....usually.... or ....until now.

I am more than happy to give this story, which makes me feel so joyful, top marks and a spot on my WL for now. I hope to shelve it soon.

All the best!

Fran xx :-)) view book